Do gifts from the pharmaceutical industry affect trust in physicians?

Michael J. Green, Rebecca Masters, Benjamin James, Bree Simmons, Erik Lehman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Gifts to physicians from the pharmaceutical industry are receiving increased scrutiny, but no previous research has evaluated the effect of such gifts on trust. The goal of this study is to determine patient awareness of interactions between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry and to learn whether those interactions impact trust and the doctorpatient relationship. METHODS: A cross-sectional, self-administered 61-item survey was administered in five outpatient clinic waiting rooms at a US medical center in 2008. A total of 220 consecutive English-speaking adults were invited to participate. Main outcome measures included: (1) Awareness of physician relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, (2) Attitudes about physician acceptance of gifts, (3) Perceived impact of gifts on trust in physicians, and (4) Effect of gifts on intent to adhere to physician recommendations. RESULTS: A total of 192 individuals participated (87% response rate). While most were unaware of particular interactions between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry (12% to 60%, depending on activity), approximately half (51%) wanted to know if their physician accepted gifts >$100. A majority indicated they would have less trust in their physician if they learned he or she: accepted gifts >$100 (59%) or went on industry-sponsored trips (58%) or sporting events (54%). Further, 25% said they would be less likely to take a prescribed medication if their physician had recently accepted a gift in return for listening to a pharmaceutical representative's presentation about that drug. CONCLUSIONS: Accepting gifts from the pharmaceutical industry has implications for the doctor-patient relationship. Doing so can undermine trust and affect patients' intent to adhere to medical recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice


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